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Wacha has worst career start in loss to Cubs

Hurler gives up three homers, suffers first defeat since Opening Day
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Unable to feast during the seemingly soft portion of the schedule that just passed, the Cardinals entered Friday ready to reset against their rivals. A troubling start from Michael Wacha, however, precluded much positive momentum.

Opening a 19-game stretch against clubs with winning records, the Cardinals suffered a 13-5 loss to the Cubs that got out of hand while Wacha endured his shortest start of the season and the worst of his career.

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ST. LOUIS -- Unable to feast during the seemingly soft portion of the schedule that just passed, the Cardinals entered Friday ready to reset against their rivals. A troubling start from Michael Wacha, however, precluded much positive momentum.

Opening a 19-game stretch against clubs with winning records, the Cardinals suffered a 13-5 loss to the Cubs that got out of hand while Wacha endured his shortest start of the season and the worst of his career.

View Full Game Coverage

"Just one of those days," manager Mike Matheny said after the club's fifth loss in its last seven games at Busch Stadium. "It's one of those blips you have to let go and get ready for the next one."

Video: CHC@STL: Matheny on overall effort in loss to Cubs

Nine of the Cubs' runs came off Wacha, who entered the night having allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts. He had been especially stingy with the long ball, having served up just three since his first start of the season.

The Cubs equaled that total before Friday's game even became official. All three traveled well over 400 feet.

Home runs by Ian Happ and Kris Bryant -- the latter of whom hadn't connected for a homer since May 14 -- sunk the Cardinals into a three-run hole in the third. Two innings later, Chicago held an 11-1 lead. A monstrous three-run blast by Kyle Schwarber served as the dagger.

"They were all elevated [pitches], middle of the plate," Wacha said. "I just have to do a better job of locating and getting it where I need it to go."

Particularly surprising was the success the Cubs had jumping on Wacha's offspeed offerings. Happ's homer came off a changeup, and Schwarber's on a hanging curveball. Prior to Friday, opponents had slugged just .183 off Wacha this season. That ranked fourth best in the Majors.

"I think for us it was more about focusing on us going out and getting our pitch," said Schwarber. "The guy has got a really good fastball and really good stuff, period, and he doesn't make many mistakes. We tried to capitalize on those mistakes, and we did."

Video: CHC@STL: Schwarber cranks mighty 3-run jack to center

Wacha, who was seeking to become the first Cardinals pitcher since 2009 to win nine straight decisions, allowed as many hits (seven) over four innings as he had in his last three starts combined. His ERA jumped from 2.47 to 3.24; the eight earned runs allowed matched a career high.

Aside from a pair of solo homers from Marcell Ozuna and Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals' offense found little traction against Cubs starter Jon Lester, who improved to 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in eight career starts at Busch Stadium.

Video: CHC@STL: Carpenter smacks 6th-inning homer off Lester

Tommy Pham added a solo shot in the eighth to give the Cardinals their 11th three-homer game of the season. They had been 9-1 in such games entering the night.

Video: CHC@STL: Pham slugs Cards' 3rd home run of the game

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ozuna extended his hitting streak to eight games with a solo homer in the fourth inning that registered an exit velocity of 112.9 mph. According to Statcast™, it was the third-hardest-hit home run by the Cardinals this season and the second-hardest by Ozuna, who has six of the team's top nine home run exit velocities. Ozuna has gone deep four times during his current hitting streak and has four multihit games.

Video: CHC@STL: Ozuna smashes solo homer to left in the 4th

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Cardinals challenged a pair of calls in the third inning, but only one was overturned in their favor. That one benefited Wacha, who was awarded an infield single after replay confirmed that he beat Addison Russell's throw from short. The call was overturned following a 31-second review.

Video: CHC@STL: Wacha awarded with a hit following challenge

The Cards were not as fortunate later in the frame, when they requested a second look at a close play at first. A review of one minute and 16 seconds confirmed the Cubs' pickoff of Harrison Bader to end the inning.

Video: CHC@STL: Contreras' pickoff stands following review

UP NEXT
Winless in two starts since returning from the disabled list, Carlos Martinez (3-3, 2.50 ERA) will seek to help the Cardinals even their three-game series against the Cubs when he faces righty Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 3.48 ERA) on Saturday. First pitch from Busch Stadium is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CT. The Cardinals will continue to be without first baseman Jose Martinez, who is away on paternity leave until Monday.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

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